Telstra directories business Sensis has bought a controlling stake in Sydney services provider Invizage for an undisclosed sum.
Robert Rath, business services GM at Sensis, would not disclose the percentage of the stake or the sum paid but said he expected Invizage's hardware and systems support and maintenance services skills to prove valuable.
Sensis wants to enter the IT services market quickly, one-stop shop-style, bringing Invizage's technical support skills to the former's 400,000 SMB customers, he said.
Sensis has claimed that IT services to SMBs are expected to grow 13 percent each year to $10 billion by 2007.
'What we think we're doing is bringing together two best-of-breed companies. We both focus on the SMB market, but in particular if you look at Invizage business, they have got tremendous experience and intellectual property,' Rath said.
He said Invizage stood out further for its 'tremendous' ability to recruit and retain staff. Keeping staff happy enough to stay in a role long-term was rare and very important to business growth and sustainability, he implied.
No major changes were planned for either company as a result of the sale. The Invizage brand and co-founders Brad Bond and Paul Adler would stay on, and there was no overlap which would require Sensis to trim either business or lay off staff, Rath said.
Six-year-old Invizage has 60 staff spread across its Melbourne headquarters, Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane offices.
Bond did not return phone calls made to him yesterday. However, co-founder Adler said in a statement that the two companies had a 'close cultural fit'.
'Sensis also fosters innovation and entrepreneurship, qualities intrinsic to the way we operate daily,' the statement said. 'We see this as a mutually beneficial investment.'
Rath said the sale was driven by Sensis independently of Telstra. The purchase was not related to any overall strategy by Telstra, he said.
Telstra invested some $850 million in IT companies in the 90s boom years for little return.
Sensis investigated a bid for media company John Fairfax last month which was turned down by Telstra's board. However, Rath said Sensis may consider other acquisitions as well as Invizage.